Valeria Monserrath Ortega Salazar and Lia Deside Villa Salazar, MONLIB, Reworking Trash To Help Marine Life

Everyday objects like plastic bags and glass bottles make up at least 80% of marine pollution. Eventually, most of the waste we create trickles into the ocean, and is often mistaken for food by marine animals, leading to death for the whales, dolphins, seals, and other sea life who are unable to digest the high concentrations of plastic and foreign materials. Vast portions of the ocean now are now littered with man-made debris, and the environmental implications are huge.

Valeria Monserrath Ortega Salazar and her cousin Lia Deside Villa Salazar are typical teenagers in the large Metropolis of Guadalajara, Mexico. As two young women entering adulthood, they are coming of age in a world that has an immense problem with waste, and are aware that change needs to happen now to preserve our planet for future generations. Troubled by the fact that their community produces around one thousand tons of trash a day, and motivated to do their part, they created MONLIB, Reworking Trash To Help Marine Life to encourage youth to take interest in their environment and to engage in creative action to combat the threats to the animals of the sea.

Valeria and Lia are assets to their neighborhoods, serving as role models by helping peers learn how to rework trash and transform it into something beautiful that sparkles and shines! Through monthly workshops, they use film to educate students on environmental issues, show them how to properly cut up their trash and teach them how to reuse the waste they collect, turning litter into works of expression and art. They also participate in neighborhood and community clean ups, targeting areas with heavy litter such as the local park, and work with the community by using the a local meeting space to create a recycling facility for all.

Youth Environmental Grantmaking team member Selene Carillo recognized that the commitment of these young women to educating people around the issues, and their willingness to undertake this huge responsibility, was exceptional. She has awarded this project a flow fund grant of $1000, despite the fact that the girls are too young to have their own bank account, and had to work with a parent to receive the funds! Selene will be serving as a mentor to the project, and emphasizes that this grant is something that could not have happened if it were not for the relationship based model of flow funding.